Faculty & Staff

Mr. Thomas Beckley Principal beckley@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Beckley began his career as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Columbia University. While serving as an officer in Rome, Italy, he completed the first cycles of Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Mr. Beckley has traveled throughout Europe and is fluent in Italian and German. He holds a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University Chicago and formerly taught Social Studies at Gordon Technical High School and coached cross country and track.
Ms. London Black Community-Engagement Coordinator black@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Black began her career in human resources working for both large corporations and small start ups focusing mainly in the supply chain and logistics industry. She has owned and operated two small businesses. Ms. Black is a graduate and active alumni member of Culver Girls Academy in Culver, IN. She attended DePaul University and earned a BA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Ms. Black currently serves on the PTO leadership board for her children’s elementary school in Oak Park. She also is an active volunteer with her church and Girl Scouts of USA.
Ms. Andrea Bonaccorsi Faculty Member bonaccorsi@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Bonaccorsi graduated from Marquette University with a degree in Secondary Education and English in 2016. She began her career in education at Messmer Saint Rose in Milwaukee, WI. In her two years at Saint Rose, Ms. Bonaccorsi taught 7th Grade Literacy, Social Studies, and Religion classes and coached the Girls on the Run team. From 2018-2019, Ms. Bonaccorsi completed the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities at The University of Chicago while working at the Behavioral Insights in Parenting Lab at The Harris School of Public Policy. Ms. Bonaccorsi is incredibly excited to join CJA in the 2019-2020 school year and have the opportunity to work with its amazing community of families, faculty and staff.
Mr. Kevin Borah IT Manager borah@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Borah came to CJA in 2019 after completing a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest where he was facilitating groups for perpetrators of domestic violence in Juneau, Alaska. Prior to making a career shift into the world of non-profits, he spent a few years as a credit analyst for a local Chicago bank. Mr. Borah is a Chicago-area native and holds degrees in both Applied Psychology & Human Development and Economics from Boston College.
Ms. Jenna Boyle Head of School boyle@cjacademy.org Bio
After completing two years of service through Teach For America, Mrs. Boyle joined CJA in June 2010 as a Science and Mathematics faculty member and Graduate Support Director. In past years, Mrs. Boyle has also served as CJA’s Dean of Academics and as Acting Principal. Mrs. Boyle earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a secondary Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University while studying through the Honors College and a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University. She is a Science faculty member and Senior Trustey Fellow through the University of Notre Dame’s Center for STEM Education.
Mr. Keith Brooks Drum Line Instructor, Faculty Member brooks@cjacademy.org Bio
Keith Brooks is an active performing and recording drummer in the Chicago area. He gained an interest in drums at the age of two years while watching his uncle play every Sunday morning. He began formal training in elementary school in Oak Park and discovered jazz. The guidance he received in elementary, junior high and high school led to a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Business from Elmhurst College and Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance from DePaul University. At DePaul he studied with Bob Rummage. These degrees have led him to be a private drum instructor. He has traveled overseas to perform in The Czech Republic and Canada. He has shared the stage with a number of great Jazz musicians and composers such as Phil Woods, Benny Goldson, Steve Weist, Bill Holman, Warren Luening, Tom Scott, Patrick Williams, Gary Smulyan, Jeff Hamilton and Mark Colby. He is also currently the Minister of Music at the Chicago Salem M.B.H. Church in Chicago, where he instructs the choirs and musicians in Gospel music. He is currently endorsed by T-Cymbals and Scorpion Percussion (drum stick company).
Ms. Sara Buethe Mathematics Specialist & Instructional Coach buethe@cjacademy.org Bio
Prior to joining the faculty at CJA in 2016, Mrs. Buethe was a math instructional coach for Big Shoulders Fund in Chicago. Before working at BSF, she taught second and third grade at Northside Catholic Academy in Chicago. Mrs. Buethe earned her Masters in Elementary Education from Loyola University Chicago as part of the LU-CHOICE (Loyola University Chicago Opportunities in Catholic Education) program, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Marquette University. She is a Senior Trustey Fellow through the University of Notre Dame’s Center for STEM Education and currently completing the Elementary Math Specialist program at the University of Chicago.
Mr. Marques Carroll Musical Director & Faculty Member carroll@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Carroll earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies Performance from DePaul University Music School. Mr. Carroll is in his 13th year as Musical Director for CJA in which he oversees the 6th grade General Music class, 7th/8th grade Music elective also known as BAM Ensemble (Black American Music), Music Co-Curricular, Drum Line and the 3rd-5th grade General Music/Choir program. Mr. Carroll is also working closely with the College Persistence team as a counselor and mentor with CJA alums. Mr. Carroll is a professional trumpeter and well known in the music scene both nationally and internationally. He has collaborated with musicians that range from Aretha Franklin, The O’Jays, Kurt Elling and jazz greats like Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton and more. He has toured the world playing music, visiting over 20 countries, the most recent being Buenos Aires, Argentina. He enjoys bringing his experiences to his classroom and lessons to share with his students and inspire them.
Mr. Darryl Clayton Social Worker clayton@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Clayton is a native Chicagoan and a graduate from Englewood High School, Columbia College (B.A., Television Broadcasting) and the University of Chicago (MSW, SSA Program). Mr. Clayton has over 15 years of direct services with children, youth, adults and families. Mr. Clayton’s direct services career includes being a part-time gym teacher, a licensed child welfare specialist, a correctional youth counselor, an adolescent services coordinator, a family reconnection specialist, an assistant project director for a federal grant project and a clinical therapist. These experiences have allowed Mr. Clayton to work with a wide variety of young people throughout the Chicagoland area to help them identify and process their needs while developing strategies for goal achievement and positive, strength-based, pro-social outcomes.
Ms. Mary Kathryn Cook Social-Work Intern cook@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Cook is a graduate of St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. She is currently working towards her Masters in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. She has previously worked with folks experiencing homelessness in Washington D.C. Additionally, she worked in Refugee and Immigration services in Phoenix, AZ. She also knows Spanish and ASL! This is Ms. Cook’s first year as part of the Upper School team. She works primarily with the 7th graders alongside Mr. Clayton and under the supervision of Ms. Fleming.
Ms. Charlotte Curtis Parent-Engagement Manager curtis@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Curtis came to CJA with over 15 years of social and customer service experience. She worked with the Cook County Social Service Department within the Domestic Violence and Diversity Units. She was co-owner of Curtis & Curtis Mobile Notary Service where she focused on working with companies and clients notarizing various documents. She earned her Bachelor degree in Law Enforcement Administration and a Master’s degree in Sociology from Western Illinois University. She has a son who graduated from CJA as a member of the Class of 2015 and currently attends Culver Academies (IN).
Ms. Laura Daley Faculty Member daley@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Daley graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in English. She began her teaching career at St. Alphonsus Elementary School as the Middle School Language Arts Teacher. Mrs. Daley then moved to Chicago Public Schools and at different times has taught from 4th to 8th grades. Mrs. Daley got her Masters Degree as a Reading Specialist from National-Louis University. She is excited to join the team at CJA and work more closely with students and their families.
Mr. David Diehl Dean of Students & Faculty Member diehl@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Diehl earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Villanova University. He has been afforded the privilege to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in the United States and Africa. Mr. Diehl began teaching middle school in Chicago in the summer of 2000. He has since earned his Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University. Mr. Diehl has been nominated for the Golden Apple Award during his time at CJA. He is happily married with four wonderful daughters.
Ms. Katie DiPiero College-Persistence Counselor dipiero@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. DiPiero joins the College-Persistence Team after working five years at Academy of St. Benedict the African in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. She first served there as an Amate House volunteer and most recently their Director of Admissions and Communications. Ms. DiPiero holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana and also studied abroad in Rome, Italy. 
Ms. Ravae Duhaney Development Associate and Faculty Member duhaney@cjacademy.org Bio
Originally from Maryland, Ms. Duhaney attended the University of Maryland Baltimore County where she studied Dance and Elementary Education. Upon graduating in 2012, she joined Teach for America and relocated to Chicago to teach Pre-Kindergarten. She received a Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education from Dominican University in 2014 and continued teaching young children for a total of seven years in Chicago, Guatemala City, and Shanghai. She will continue her career in education at Chicago Jesuit Academy where she will be teaching performing arts as well as working with the Development team.
Ms. Anne Durkin Dean of Lower School & Faculty Member durkin@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Durkin came to CJA after graduating from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Human Development cum laude. While at Boston College, Mrs. Durkin served as a student teacher for four semesters. She also spent a semester abroad continuing her studies in Human Development at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. Mrs. Durkin has worked as the Dean of the 6th Grade, the Dean of the 5th Grade and now serves as Dean of the Lower School.
Ms. Maria Eidietis Faculty Member eidietis@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Maria Eidietis came to Chicago in 1999 after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Notre Dame. She taught middle school reading and language arts and earned a Masters of Humanities from the University of Chicago before joining the founding faculty of Chicago Jesuit Academy in 2005. After time away, Ms. Eidietis is excited to return to CJA for the 2019-2020 school year.
Dr. Anne Elsener Dean of Curriculum & Instruction elsener@cjacademy.org Bio
Dr. Elsener began her teaching career with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Special Education from Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana and then obtained her Master’s in Education from the University of Notre Dame’s ACE program. She earned her doctoral degree from Indiana University in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education. She has taught reading, writing, social studies, and mathematics at the elementary and middle school level. Before coming to CJA she was a professor at Dominican University in River Forest, IL in the School of Education.
Ms. Lauren Fessler College-Persistence Pilot Manager & Development Officer fessler@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Fessler joins CJA on both the College-Persistence and Development teams after spending four years working in education in Phoenix, Arizona. Starting as a Teach For America corps member, Ms. Fessler taught for four years, focusing on English Language Development and STEM. In addition to teaching, she coached Western School of Science and Technology’s soccer team to a state championship. Ms. Fessler graduated from the University of Notre Dame and studied abroad in Perth, Australia.
Mr. Kevin Flaherty College-Persistence Counselor & Data Manager flaherty@cjacademy.org Bio
Before coming to CJA in the summer of 2017, Mr. Flaherty worked for five years at Amandla Charter School in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood where he served a variety of roles. He began his Amandla career as a Paraprofessional, then worked as a Computer Science Teacher and Technology Coordinator, and most recently worked as a OneGoal Program Director and Director of College Counseling. Prior to Amandla, Mr. Flaherty volunteered for a year at the Amate House program at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood. Mr. Flaherty earned a degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in Materials Science and Engineering. Mr. Flaherty is originally from Cincinnati, OH, and is a graduate of St. Xavier High School.
Ms. Raynesia Fleming Director of Social Work Services fleming@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Fleming is a Chicagoland native and graduated from Mother Theodore Guerin High School. She studied Psychology and Sociology at Western Illinois University and went on to earn a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana in 2009. Prior to CJA, she worked as a social worker for Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy and Holmes Elementary School in Oak Park, IL. In addition to her social work experience, Ms. Fleming has served as a graduate counselor at University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and worked as a counselor for Upward Bound in Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Fleming is extremely thankful and overjoyed to be working with the families and staff of CJA.
Mr. Roger Garvert Development Officer garvert@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Garvert joined the Development Office at CJA in June of 2019, after over 30 years of experience in sales and engineering in the telecommunications and semiconductor industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with high distinction from the University of Kansas, a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. He is an active volunteer at his church and board member of a local non-profit organization supporting adult day services.
Ms. Gretchen Geerts-Melaniphy Faculty Member geerts@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Geerts-Melaniphy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Theology at Marquette University. After graduating, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and began her teaching career at Gonzaga Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Her time as a Jesuit Volunteer fostered a passion for education, and upon returning home, she pursued her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University of Chicago by participating in LU:CHOICE. For the past six years, she taught in the Archdiocese of Chicago and worked with UChicago STEM Education as a professional development leader and STEM camp instructor.
Mr. Gerry Geyer Director of Facilities geyer@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Geyer joined CJA’s team in the winter of 2015. Prior to CJA, Mr. Geyer spent two decades in the Futures Industry, in addition to several positions in retail and office management.
Mr. Peter Gosselar Chief Information Officer gosselar@cjacademy.org Bio
Originally hailing from Holland, Michigan, Mr. Gosselar earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from Kenyon College and a Master of Arts in Social Science from the University of Chicago. He came to CJA following three years as a political campaign consultant and three years as a researcher for the Washington, DC-based consumer rights group Public Citizen. While at Kenyon, Mr. Gosselar worked the college’s tech support line and was a member of the Varsity Swim team.
Ms. Mary Grawe Director of Benefactor Engagement grawe@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Grawe came to CJA having spent three years working for a fundraising management company at both the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and the University of Chicago. Prior to this, she spent two years teaching fourth grade in the Mississippi Delta through Teach For America. During that time, she also served as the director of the school musical. It was her experience working at Lexington Elementary School that led her to join the CJA community. Ms. Grawe is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Dayton.
Dr. Christina Green College-Persistence Pilot Assistant Manager cgreen@cjacademy.org Bio
Dr. Christina Green joined the CJA College-Persistence team in June 2019. Prior to joining CJA, she worked as a specialist in tech for two years. Dr. Green earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology/Latino Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later earned a Doctorate in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego, where her research focused on Afro-Latinidad in the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States. She has taught courses in ethnic studies, urban studies and planning, history, and writing at the college level. Dr. Green is bilingual in Spanish and has worked with students of diverse ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds. A native of Chicago, she is excited to continue her passion for social justice education and advocacy at CJA.
Ms. Jessica Green Development Officer green@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Jessica Green joined the CJA Development team in late 2018. Ms. Green attended DePaul University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Sales Leadership and a concentration in Latino Media and Communication. She began her career working for private companies focusing mainly on Sales and Operations. While attending DePaul, Ms. Green served as a Jumpstart Corps Member and worked with children in under-resourced neighborhoods to help strengthen literacy skills and build family engagement. Her experience includes marketing, account management, data analysis, leadership and strategy.
Mr. Luke Hagerty Faculty Member lhagerty@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Hagerty came to CJA in 2017 after spending a year as a volunteer in the Alumni Service Corps (ASC) at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit Nativity middle school in St. Louis. At Loyola, he taught technology and physical education, worked in development and coached soccer, track and field, futsal and basketball. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Marquette University magna cum laude.
Ms. Terese Hagerty Dean of Programs & Faculty Member hagerty@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Hagerty joined CJA in 2012. Prior to that, she spent two years teaching math, science and religion in Montgomery, Alabama. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Marquette University, a Master of Education degree as a member of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program and is a Senior Trustey Fellow through the University of Notre Dame’s Center for STEM Education. She teaches science and coordinates co-curricular programs at CJA.
Ms. Elizabeth Hauser Director of Learning Support hauser@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Hauser received her BA in Special Education from Illinois State University as a Learning and Behavior Specialist. She began her career at Fremont Elementary School in Mundelein, IL as the K-1 Learning and Behavior Specialist. She then went to Grayslake North High School to become the Special Education Reading Specialist. While at Grayslake she attended Benedictine University for her MA as a Reading Specialist. She recently became a Wilson Level 1 certified dyslexia practitioner in 2017 and was awarded Learning Ally’s Winslow Coyne Reitnouer Excellence in Teaching Award in 2018.
Mr. Armario Hill Sr. Middle School Support hill@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Hill is a lifelong member of the Austin Community. He is a graduate of Charles A. Prosser Career Academy. He has worked in the travel industry, the United States Post Office and for the US Census Bureau. As the father of one of our alumni (Armario Hill Jr.), Mr. Hill has volunteered countless hours at CJA before joining our staff.
Mr. Matt Houlihan Faculty Member houlihan@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Houlihan earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Education from the University of Notre Dame. He is a graduate of the University’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program. He spent two years in Mobile, Alabama, teaching at Most Pure Heart of Mary School. He served as a teacher of history, religion, art and physical education. He was a football coach, discipline chair and acting vice principal in his time there. He has also taught at Franklin Middle School in Champaign, Illinois, where he taught reading and history and directed the school’s intramural sports program. While a student at Notre Dame, he participated in the National Youth Sports Program and volunteered with Teamwork for Tomorrow.
Mr. Dana Jenkins College-Persistence Counselor jenkins@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Jenkins joined CJA in 2017 after three years working as a K-8 School Counselor with Chicago Public Schools. Prior to his time with CPS, Mr. Jenkins served as a Clinical Counselor with an alternative public charter school in Washington, DC. Mr. Jenkins earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology and Spanish from Knox College and later earned a Master of Education and Human Development in School Counseling from George Washington University. Mr. Jenkins is excited to join the College-Persistence team and the CJA family!
Ms. Hannah Jones Social Worker jones@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Hannah Jones grew up in Moscow, Russia and moved to Denver, Colorado in 2007. There, she attended the great Jesuit institution of Regis University, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies. She then volunteered as a social worker in Belize City with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for two years. There, she spent her time working to help families receive housing and riding her motorcycle. Ms. Jones is now a 1st year social work student at Loyola University Chicago. At CJA, she will work with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders alongside Ms. Raynesia Fleming. In her free time, Ms. Jones loves dancing, subverting the patriarchal paradigm, and identifying as a Hufflepuff.
Ms. Colleen Kelley Social Worker kelley@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Kelley joins the CJA team this year as the 6th-grade social worker. Ms. Kelley graduated from Loyola University-Chicago in 2014 with a Masters in Social Work. Over the past few years Ms. Kelley has worked in many great agencies across the Chicago-land area including Hephzibah Children’s Association, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Northshore University Health System. Ms. Kelley has focused on working with youth her entire career and more recently working with students to help achieve academic and social emotional goals. Ms. Kelley is an avid hiker, triathlete and taco eater.
Mr. Jay Kemper Director of College Persistence kemper@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Kemper joined CJA after three years of service with the human rights organization, Heartland Alliance. At Heartland, he taught and counseled immigrant and refugee youth while working to reunify them with their families. Mr. Kemper is bilingual in Spanish and has worked with students across the globe, teaching at a grade school in Santiago, an orphanage in Buenos Aires, and a bilingual college-preparatory high school in Budapest. A native of Chicago, he holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Spanish from the University of Dayton magna cum laude.
Ms. Caleen Kennedy Director of Trauma-Informed Education kennedy@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Kennedy is a Chicago native and attended Carmel Catholic High School. She studied Advertising and Studio Art at Marquette University and earned a Masters in Social Work at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to CJA, Ms. Kennedy was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and served two years in Kathmandu, Nepal as a teacher at St. Xavier’s-Godavari.
Ms. Pam Kiefer School Nurse kiefer@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Kiefer has been a Nurse for over 25 years with experience working at Evanston Hospital, as a Pulmonary Nurse with NorthShore University Health Systems, with professional athletes of a Chicago sports team, and as an independent consultant for pharmaceutical companies developing new medications. Ms. Kiefer has worked as a School Nurse for over 12 years, with experience working with Pre-Kindergarten through High School & College age students, including Special Education . She is an American Heart Association CPR and First Aid Instructor and Illinois Department of Public Health Certified Vision and Hearing Screener. Ms. Kiefer is a member of the National Association of School Nurses and the Illinois State School Nurse Association. Ms. Kiefer grew up in Naperville and has lived in the Chicagoland area most of her life.
Mr. Ben Klooster Director of Recruitment klooster@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Ben Klooster is a graduate of Grinnell College, where he studied English and Spanish. He recently earned an MBA from the Questrom Business School at Boston University. He has worked in Boston in education in a variety of roles –serving as a founding member on the leadership team of a charter middle school, managing large teams of educators, directing school operations and running after-school programs. He lives in Austin with his wife and dog.
Ms. Katie Kuhns Faculty Member kuhns@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Kuhns is a member of the lower school team who came to CJA after three years of teaching in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Ms. Kuhns attended Creighton University, where she earned a degree in Justice and Society with a minor in Political Science. Ms. Kuhns then went on to earn her Masters of Education in Elementary Education from Loyola University Chicago through the LU-CHOICE service through teaching program.
Ms. Jessica Lee Social-Work Intern lee@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Lee is a graduate of Scripps College. She is currently working towards her Masters in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. She has previously worked in preventative education and crisis intervention. This is Ms. Lee’s third year as part of the Lower School Team. She works primarily with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders alongside Ms. Fleming.
Mr. Matthew Lynch President lynch@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Lynch began his career in education as a teacher at a federal prison in Virginia and a juvenile detention facility in Maryland. He later taught and coached at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, a Jesuit Nativity middle school in Baltimore. Upon returning to his hometown of Chicago, Mr. Lynch worked as a teacher and administrator at St. Ignatius College Prep. He subsequently assembled and led the team that has founded Chicago Jesuit Academy. Mr. Lynch holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Georgetown cum laude and a Master of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a recipient of St. Ignatius College Prep’s Alumni Medal, the Community Renewal Society’s 35-under-35 Award, St. Josaphat Parish’s Unity Award, and Georgetown University’s Kraft Medal.
Mr. Mike Mason Dean of 7th Grade & Faculty Member mason@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Mason came to CJA after spending two years with Teach For America in the Mississippi Delta, teaching 7th and 8th grade math at Hazlehurst Middle School. He graduated from Boston College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History. While at Boston College he volunteered as a tutor at a local grade school, piquing his interest in education. An avid sports enthusiast, he also has served as a football and basketball coach. In addition to his work at CJA, he recently completed a Master of Business Administration degree at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Ms. Megan Ptacek Mortensen Vice President of College Persistence mortensen@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Mortensen began her career as a reporter for The American Banker, a daily financial newspaper in New York. In 2001, she was accepted to the New York City Teaching Fellows Program, a program to bring new teachers into under-performing schools through alternative certifications. She taught seventh-grade Language Arts in Brooklyn, New York. Through that program she received her master’s degree in secondary education at Brooklyn College. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Villanova University and is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep. Before joining Chicago Jesuit Academy, she worked as a Project Manager for KHLowery Consulting, a higher education publishing consulting firm in Chicago.
Ms. Meredith Mosbacher Development Officer mosbacher@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Mosbacher’s experience has included experience at Newsweek/Daily Beast’s Women in the World running their Young Women’s Leadership Conference, serving as Chief Media Officer for TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods and creating the curriculum for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls’ Road Show. Before joining Chicago Jesuit Academy, Mosbacher worked as Program Director at art nonprofit, Project&. Ms. Mosbacher has her MSc in Gender, Media, and Culture from the London School of Economic’s Gender Institute, and concentrated in both Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences and Performance Studies at Brown University.
Ms. Emily Nelson Faculty Member nelson@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Nelson came to CJA after spending two years with Teach For America in Philadelphia teaching high school science. She graduated from Marquette University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Criminology. She recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania receiving her Master’s Degree in Education. She loves being outside and always being active. When she can, she loves visiting family and friends in Connecticut where she grew up.
Ms. Megan O’Brien Director of Business Operations obrien@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. O’Brien came to CJA after several years of assisting several area not-for-profit agencies with accounting and bookkeeping as a consultant. Ms. O’Brien earned her Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana University.
Ms. Sonia Odom Faculty Member odom@cjacademy.org Bio
Originally from San Francisco, Ms. Odom attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory (CA) before attending Loyola University New Orleans in 2011. During her time at Loyola she volunteered with Boys Hope Girls Hope and spent a semester studying abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. After graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in African & African-American Studies, Ms. Odom taught lower elementary in a New Orleans Recovery School District charter school before coming to CJA in 2016. Ms. Odom received a Master of Art in Teaching from the Relay Graduate School of Education in August 2017 and now teaches 8th Grade Language Arts & Reading after previously teaching in the 6th grade.
Ms. Miranda Olander College-Persistence Counselor olander@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Olander first got a taste for education in Chicago Public Schools when she began her year of service with City Year in 2016. She worked to tutor and mentor 3rd-grade students at Chalmer’s Elementary School in North Lawndale. She has over 8 years of experience in customer service and working with students ages 5 to 25. Ms. Olander earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Spanish from Monmouth College. She is so happy to have joined the CJA family and can’t wait to dive into her work supporting CJA students and alumni.
Ms. Danielle Pernini Director of Development Operations pernini@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Pernini joined CJA’s Business and Development team in 2018. A Chicago-suburbs native, she graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Ms. Pernini has served in various educational settings throughout her career – from middle school to higher education, in both for-profit and non-profit institutions. Her experience includes communications and marketing, recruitment, event planning, and fundraising.
Ms. Sara Powers Faculty Member powers@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Powers is a member of the Lower School team who came to CJA after teaching for five years in the Archdiocese of Chicago. She is a Chicago native and a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Dayton and earned her Master of Education in Elementary Education from Loyola University Chicago. Mrs. Powers began her teaching career as a member of Loyola’s LU-CHOICE volunteer teaching program.
Mr. Sam Rathke Faculty Member rathke@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Rathke did his undergraduate work at DePaul University right here in Chicago. During his four years, he ran an after-school program at the Kelly Hall YMCA which led him towards teaching. He has been working at CJA since 2013 as the fifth-grade Social Studies teacher. He loves coaching and being a member of CJA’s close-knit community.
Ms. Janorisè Robinson Dean of 6th Grade robinson@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Janorisè Robinson has been an urban educator in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois for the past 22 years. She has served as a middle and high school English and Social Studies teacher; an instructional coach; the founder of student travel programs; and the student recruitment administrator for some of the neediest children in these cities. She has her Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Concordia University and is currently working on her doctorate. She lives in Oak Park, IL with her husband, Michael; and their two sons, Emmanuel and Caleb.
Ms. Meredith Schmitt Faculty Member schmitt@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Schmitt joined the CJA community as a teacher aide in the summer of 2017. She has now joined the CJA faculty after her graduation from Miami University in Oxford, OH, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Middle Childhood Education with concentrations in math, social studies, and science for grades 4-9. She is originally from Cincinnati, OH.
Ms. Toya Shaffer Lower School Aide shaffer@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Shaffer is a graduate of Oak Park River Forest High School. Prior to working at CJA, she worked at Woodruff Funeral Home. She has also volunteered at Carol Robertson Day Care Center, Alain Locke Charter Academy and Urban Prep High School (West Campus).
Ms. Maria Lefkow Sorensen Vice President of Development sorensen@cjacademy.org Bio
A Chicago native and a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep, Ms. Lefkow Sorensen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Tulane University. Ms. Lefkow Sorensen came to CJA after twelve years at The Princeton Review, a leading standardized test preparation company where she served as Executive Director of the Illinois office. In 2010, Ms. Lefkow Sorensen joined the CJA Junior Board and co-chaired the annual Give-A-Little Gala. She subsequently became a full-time member of the CJA community.
Ms. Janet Underwood Academic Consultant   Bio
Mrs. Underwood retired from Sacred Heart Schools on Sheridan Road in 2005 where she served for fourteen years, first as Principal of Hardey Preparatory, then as Head of Schools for both the Academy and Hardey Prep and finally as Head of the Lower School of both the Academy and Hardey Prep. Prior to that, she was Dean of Students at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart from 1975 to 1978. Mrs. Underwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Barat College of the Sacred Heart, studied Theology at Catholic University of America and earned a Master of Science in Administration degree from University of Notre Dame. Mrs. Underwood served and completed two three-year terms as a member of the Board of Trustees at St. Ignatius College Prep where she chaired the School Programs Committee. Mrs. Underwood also served a three-year term on the Ancona School Board of Trustees. She remains on the education committees at both schools. Mrs. Underwood served as a member of the Educational Committee for the Clinical Pastoral Educational Program of the Church Home at Montgomery Place, a social service agency of the Episcopal Charities and Community Services of Chicago. She also served two, three-year terms on CJA’s Board of Directors, rotating off of the board in June of 2018. Mrs. Underwood continues to serve as a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, which she chaired during her time on the Board.
Mr. Tom Van Grinsven Vice President of Operations vangrinsven@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Van Grinsven came to CJA in 2012 after serving as a City Year Corps Member in Boston, where he served at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School. A Chicago native and a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of the Holy Cross where he also served as the captain of the Men’s Varsity Soccer team. In addition to his work at CJA, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in June of 2018.
Ms. Jordan Weber Assistant Dean of Lower School & Faculty Member jweber@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Weber currently serves as the Assistant Dean of the Lower School. She is also the 4th grade Language Arts/Reading and Social Studies teacher. This will be Mrs. Weber’s 4th year at CJA and her 10th year teaching in the Chicagoland area.  
Ms. Susan Weber Development Assistant weber@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Weber joined the Development team in the Fall of 2018. She earned a B.S. in Supply Chain Management from The Pennsylvania State University. Following graduation, she worked for Procter & Gamble in a variety of Transportation and Project Management-related assignments across three locations including Kobe, Japan. During a career break to raise her three children, she made volunteering a priority and served in many roles at schools in both Ridgefield, CT and Naperville, IL, spanning elementary through high school.
Mr. Jason Williams Classroom Aide williams@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Jitim Young Faculty Member young@cjacademy.org Bio
A graduate of Gordon Technical High School, Mr. Young was a National Honor Society student who also excelled on the basketball court as a high school All-American. He attended Northwestern University graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies and Minor in Sociology. Prior to working at Chicago Jesuit Academy, Mr. Young played eight years of professional basketball traveling the world, but also mentoring young people in different countries. He is actively involved with the media covering Northwestern Basketball games on WGN Radio, and working with various sports media entities.
Mr. Dave Zalesky Director of Compliance & Faculty Member zalesky@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Zalesky joined CJA as a teacher in the summer of 2017 after attaining a Masters in Education from Northwestern University. Prior to this career switch, he spent 19 years as a floor trader on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He also graduated from Duke University with a degree in biomedical engineering. Mr. Zalesky grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and currently lives in the city with his wife and two kids.
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